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£10bn offshore energy project would green Scotland's oil and gas sector and safeguard thousands of jobs


By Calum MacLeod

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Mark Dixon (left) and Dan Jackson of Cerulean Winds.
Mark Dixon (left) and Dan Jackson of Cerulean Winds.

A £10 billion project to use green energy to power the UK's oil and gas terminals has called for urgent government support to ensure it goes ahead.

Green infrastructure developer Cerulean Winds has revealed an ambitious plan to accelerate decarbonisation of oil and gas assets through an integrated 200-turbine floating wind and hydrogen development that would safeguard or create tens of thousands of jobs.

The proposal would have the capacity to abate 20 million tonnes of CO2 through simultaneous North Sea projects west of Shetland and in the central North Sea.

The venture is now calling on UK and Scottish governments to make an "exceptional"case to deliver an "extraordinary" outcome for the economy and the environment.

A formal request for seabed leases has been submitted to Marine Scotland.

Cerulean Winds is led by Dan Jackson and Mark Dixon, who have more than 25 years’ experience working together on large-scale offshore infrastructure developments in the oil and gas industry.

Dan Jackson, founding director of Cerulean Winds, said: “The UK is progressing the energy transition, but a sense of urgency and joined-up approach is required to enable rapid decarbonisation of oil and gas assets or there is a risk of earlier decommissioning and significant job losses. Emissions are quite rightly no longer acceptable, but with emissions penalties and taxes coming, the UK oil and gas industry’s role in homegrown energy security during the transition could be threatened unless current decarbonisation efforts can be greatly speeded up. The consequences of not moving quickly enough will be catastrophic for the economy and the environment.”

A graphic of how Cerulean's proposition will work.
A graphic of how Cerulean's proposition will work.

Cerulean already has Tier 1 contractors in place to begin development and secured investment support.

The proposed development involves the construction of over 200 of the largest floating turbines at sites west of Shetland and in the Central North Sea with 3GW per hour of capacity, feeding power to the offshore facilities and excess 1.5 GW per hour power to onshore green hydrogen plants.

The developers say this would provide the ability to electrify the majority of current UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) assets as well as future production facilities from 2024, reducing emissions well ahead of government targets.

This will fully provide offshore platforms with green energy at a price below current gas turbine generation with no upfront cost to operators and could lead to the development of green hydrogen at scale with hydrogen export potential of £1 billion.

The product would require no subsidies or CFD (corequirements and hundreds of millions of pounds to government revenue via leases and taxation through to 2030.

Cerulean has undertaken the necessary infrastructure planning for the scheme to ensure the required level of project readiness, targeting financial close in Q1 2022. Construction would start soon after with energisation commencing in 2024. An Infrastructure Project Finance model, commonly used for major capital projects is being adopted.

Société Générale, one of the leading European financial services groups, is advising Cerulean Winds.

Allan Baker, global head of power advisory and project finance with Société Générale, commented: “The Cerulean UKCS decarbonisation project has the potential to meet all of the basin’s transition needs by reducing oil and gas emissions as quickly as possible whilst also introducing large scale green energy. We are pleased to be supporting the leadership on what is a transformational proposition for the UK.”

Corporate finance advisors to the energy industry Piper Sandler are also advising. Tim Hoover, project finance investment banking managing director with the firm, added: “The Piper Sandler investment bankers in the UK and in the US have partnered with Cerulean’s leadership over the last year to develop the UKCS decarbonisation model and we are pleased that it is now at the regulatory approval stage; it is a scheme that understands the needs and requirements of the financial markets to make it bankable.”

Cerulean estimates that the current 160,000 oil and gas jobs can be safeguarded and 200,000 new roles within the floating wind and hydrogen sectors will be created within the next five years.

Mr Jackson added: “We have a transformative development that will give the UK the opportunity to rapidly decarbonise oil and gas assets, safeguard many thousands of jobs and support a new green hydrogen supply chain. The decision to proceed with the scheme will ultimately rest with the Scottish Government and Marine Scotland and their enthusiasm for a streamlined regulatory approach. The ask is simply that an exceptional decision is made for an extraordinary outcome. We are ready to deliver a self-sustained development that will decarbonise the UKCS and be the single biggest emissions abatement project to date.”

….ends….

For further information contact Gayle Grant, director BIG Partnership tel 07702 737135 email gayle.grant@bigpartnership.co.uk

About Cerulean Winds

Cerulean Winds is a green infrastructure developer founded by Dan Jackson and Mark Dixon, who have together, over 25 years, led large scale offshore infrastructure developments. With exclusive Tier 1 contractor relationships in place, Cerulean Winds has a market funded infrastructure construct to deliver integrated floating wind and hydrogen developments at scale.

Dan and Mark have extensive experience in the offshore sector including establishing successful global subsea engineering consultancy DeepSea Engineering, which was acquired by McDermott International. DeepSea advised clients across the market from the outset of the deep water era from 2000 onwards. DeepSea was engaged with almost all the deep water projects at the time representing the different stakeholder groups; operators, contractors, banks and investors. Various spin off companies and technologies associated with deep water from this time are very relevant to the Cerulean proposition and included the development of patents and IP for floating technologies and mooring systems.

Another notable venture created by the founders is the joint venture between McDermott and Baker Hughes (formerly GE Oil & Gas), io oil & gas consulting. Its purpose at launch in 2015 was to bring integrated contracting to the upstream oil and gas sector including contractor-backed project finance. Whilst the oil price was at an all-time low at the time the new venture secured several multibillion dollar projects for the parent companies by providing suitably economic development plans to the oil and gas companies when these projects would otherwise have languished until the oil price recovered.

Both Mark and Dan have held a variety of leadership roles across multinational corporations advising on the planning, construction, and operation of some of the largest offshore projects. They have significant experience managing integrated contracting and project finance to enable funding of major capital projects from the financial markets, including both UK and international development with a variety of commercial models and Build Own Operate Transfer (BOOT) funding constructs.


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